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Stamp News  December  2011 

                              Woodchip-free Zone 


Australia's 1970s Paintings series

The 1974-79 inaugural "Paintings" series of Australia, in denominations of $1, $2, $4, $5 and $10, are a superb quintet. Given the originals are owned by The National Gallery of Victoria, or other institutions, the stamps are probably as close as most of us are likely to come to calling these paintings our own.

The stamps are of course common mint or used and on FDC, and mint are widely used up nowadays on those packets/parcels we receive when we buy stamps at auction, for example. Late, philatelic use of such stamps is not what this column is about; rather it is contemporary, commercial use that is its focus. "Woodchippers" of philatelic usages of these stamps have my blessing.

Let's now examine a number of good ol' fashioned in-period usages of the five stamps.

                       Figure 1. $1 solo to rescue in apparent passport emergency

The British High Commission Passport Section correspondence we have to thank for many nice usage covers of the 1970s/1980s. Passport renewals, amendments, visa endorsements, etc, often called for a passport to be physically delivered to the British High Commission for attention, and such a valuable document was generally forwarded by Registered, Certified or, when time was of the essence, Priority mail services. These services often yielded higher denomination frankings, Figure 1 being a particularly unusual and scarce example. Posted at G.P.O. Sydney 3 Apr 1979 to Canberra, the sender was apparently in such a hurry he/she posted the article in a regular post box (witness the handstamped "Incorrectly Posted/In Letter Receiver"), rather than handing in over the counter for dedicated attention. Fortunately, the article was still serviced in the manner for which postage was prepaid, arriving Canberra next day as a Priority paid article ought to. $1 was for 70c Non-standard article over 250/500 gms intrastate + 30c Priority service. The only such solo use of the $1 I've noted. Value : $100 (off cover 20c).

                             Figure 2. $1 uprate for specific additional postal service

In my usage collection exhibits I like to show examples of the subject stamp (a) used as a solo franking, (b) as an uprate for a specific additional postal service, (c) as a multiple franking of two or more, and (d) as a dominant franking component in combination with contemporary stamp/s. Figure 2 is a (b) category item, where a Stationery 20c envelope (Letter rate) has been uprated with the $1 at North Adelaide on 16 Jan 1980, again from the British High Commission correspondence, the $1 representing 50c Certified fee + 50c "A.R." (Acknowledgement of delivery). Value : $40

                                   Figure 3. Posting a letter the uneconomical way?

The sender of Figure 3, from Glebe to South Yarra on 20 Apr 1979, clearly wanted it there in a hurry. The Letter rate at this time was 20c, and Priority paid service fee of 30c was added to this to ensure next day delivery was achieved, which it was according to timeclock datestamps (Sydney 20 Apr, Melbourne 21 Apr, Blackburn 21 Apr) on reverse. Just to be certain that the article was actually delivered the day it arrived, the sender engaged in a little overkill, paying an additional $1.50 for Messenger Delivery service. The complete delivery package cost the sender $2 (ten times regular letter rate), a nice little earner for Australia Post, and provided us with a rare solo franking usage item for the $2 Painting. Value : $100 (off cover 20c).

                                          Figure 4. Good service to U.S. for $2

Costing the same amount as Figure 3, posted six days later, and providing us with another very scarce solo usage of the $2 Painting, is Figure 4. This went from Lithgow to Pennsylvania by Overseas Special Delivery, arriving 30 Apr, just four days after departing Lithgow (attested by U.S. backstamp). Fair value for money it's reasonable to say, particularly when one compares these two items. Not much in it in terms of market value, either, at least in my opinion (actually bought on eBay a few years ago for US$58.50). I should conclude the $1 and $2 denominations with the comment that neither is particularly hard to find on combination franking registered articles. Value : $75

                            Figure 5. $4 Painting a lot more than twice as difficult as $2

I've found the $4 Painting to be very elusive on postal articles used during its period of issue. The ACSC "on cover" price of $50 is very light on, albeit dating back to 2002. I have only four items, none of them especially "flash". Figure 5 will have to do for a usage on cover for this exercise, a 29 Mar 1976 registered airmail Manly to U.S., where the aggregate franking of $5.60 paid Zone 4 airmail 40c x9 + $2 registration fee. I've seen nicer $4 usage items sell in auctions in the $300/400 range, and more. I don't disagree with those levels, incidentally. Value : $250 ($4 off cover $2.50)

                    Figure 6. Stamp usage on postal documents an interesting subject

I've often considered forming a collection of stamp usage on postal articles other than more traditional covers and postcards and the like. Articles such as Parcels Post labels, Application for Redirection forms, "Postage due" dockets, etc, etc. Figure 6 is an Advice of Postal Article Awaiting Collection card, in which the recipient is advised that five ordinary parcels have arrived. For whatever reason, a total of $9 in postal charges was applicable to these parcels, and that was met by affixing Paintings $1 and $4 x2, which were cancelled at Artarmon, the receiving P.O. Incidentally, the overlapped $4 was originally wrapped around the card. I prefer to exhibit the whole of the stamp, and carefully moisten such overlappings and restore position, as shown for this item. Value : $100 (off cover $5.20).

                                Figure 7. $5 McMahon's Point another "sleeper"

ACSC "on cover" $30 (2002) for the $5 McMahon's Point again does not accurately reflect the scarcity of this stamp on postal articles. During the life of the stamp (1979-84) registration, a most likely call for use of a $5, never rose above $3.30 per article. Its replacement, the $5 Holiday at Mentone, however, is comparatively easy to find on cover. During that stamps period of service the outrageously expensive Security Post, the successor to registration, peaked at $6 per article. The $15 "on cover" price for that $5 is a reasonable guide. Back to the subject $5, Figure 7 is an excellent example of usage of this stamp. A 3 Nov 1981 use by University of W.A., it was posted at Victoria Square P.O., destined for London per International Priority Paid service. The cost of that service to U.K. was $12.90 up to 500gms, and the franking composition conveniently includes a pair of our $5 (Victoria Square may not have stocked the $10 stamp). There was a dedicated P.O label for this service, but it has not survived the journey (trace of remnant adhesive visible lower left corner). Upon arrival in U.K. a prominent Datapost label was affixed. Australia Post details of service handstamp appears upper left; a rare marking. Value : $150 (stamps off cover $6.35).

                                    Figure 8. International Priority Paid fully loaded

The $10 Paintings, predictably, is scarce on postal articles. I do however have slightly more usage examples of this denomination than I do of the $4 and $5. That is probably because I aggressively targeted buying examples of the $10 on the rare occasions they appeared, whilst the other two denominations slipped under my radar. Figure 8 has the dedicated International Priority Paid service label, missing from Figure 7; in addition it has the serial numbered label, which replaced the handstamp shown for the previous item. Sent from Wagin 3 Nov 1986 to Auckland, the aggregate franking of $13.75 was for Zone 1, up to 500gms. Value : $250 (stamps off cover $4.70).

                                Figure 9. $10 less likely to be found used domestically

I've found the $10 to be particularly hard to get on domestic postal articles. Figure 9 is a fortunate survivor given it was used on a parcel weighing up to 4kgs. The large envelope was utilized as an address label on a 29 Oct 1982 parcel sent registered from Newstead to Manly. The NEWSTEAD VIA FORTITUDE VALLEY/PARCELS" datestamp in rose is a scarce marking. The Air Mail parcels rate was $8 up to 4kgs for this point A to B journey + $3 registration fee. Value : $200 (stamps off cover $3.80).

Season's greetings to readers. May 2012 see covers further enrich your philatelic lives.

Rod Perry has been a philatelic trader since 1962. He founded Rodney A Perry Auction Galleries (now Millennium Philatelic Auctions) in 1971. As a collector he has exhibited    nationally and internationally. Rod prefers his used stamps on cover and likens taking a stamp off its original cover to converting a tree to woodchips.